With a $350 million capital campaign for faculty excellence in the works and a new science building on the horizon, the university’s evolving role as a research institution is becoming more vital than ever before.
“The mission of a research university is both to create new knowledge — research — and advance that knowledge — teaching. Conducting research keeps faculty members highly engaged in the latest developments in their field, which is then translated into classroom experience for students,” said Timothy Barbari, associate provost for research, in an email. “Students who get to share in research, either directly through their participation or indirectly through the classroom, develop a high sense of the importance of lifelong learning.”
Georgetown officials certainly recognize the need for more research. At the spring 2011 faculty town hall meeting on Feb. 3, University President John J. DeGioia described the $350 million capital campaign’s goal for faculty excellence.
“This pillar of the campaign is a way to strengthen Georgetown’s excellence in our academic mission … supporting a more balanced and diverse portfolio of academic strengths in what we know is a very competitive landscape for higher education,” DeGioia said.
Part of this campaign could provide funding for research programs on campus. But deciding who gets a piece of the pie brings departmental interests to the foreground.
Professor YuYe Tong, chair of the chemistry department, says that the sciences are in need of the most funding. “[Georgetown] wants to define [itself] as a student-centered research university. But in doing that, you need a leadership that has the courage to put money into science, not once but in a sustainable way,” Tong said. “A strong, nationally competitive, internationally competitive science program is a must.”
He added that the sciences require more costly equipment to effectively engage in research.
“In terms of humanities and social sciences, you need a desk, a brain, a computer and you can do your research,” he said.
But professor John Morrell, chair of the art and art history department, said in an email that his program could also benefit from increased capital campaign funding.
“With increased support for faculty excellence, art and art history faculty would have additional funds for research travel, art supplies and studio spaces,” Morrell said. “Eventually, we plan to have faculty and visiting artist studios on or near campus. This would enhance faculty research and dramatically increase the learning opportunities for students to interact with faculty in their professional research activities.”
The capital campaign’s timing coincides with a rising interest in research, according to Sonia Jacobson, director of the Georgetown Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program. GUROP is funded by the Office of the Provost as well as by individual faculty members’ research grants. The new capital campaign will expand funding for various initiatives and grants as well as infrastructure.